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Current study: Spiritual Warfare

09 October 2012

Week 41 - Sunday, 07 October to Tuesday, 09 October

October 7:      Matthew 4:23-25; 8:14-17;      Mark 1:21-39;      Luke 4:31-44
October 8:      John 3-5
October 9:     Matthew 8:1-4;        9:1-17;  12:1-21;     Mark 1:40-3:21;     Luke 5:12-6:19

Have you found any new gems among the familiar stories? I have! It’s amazing how God allows us to see new stuff every time we go through His Word.

Jesus is beginning his ministry with some healings and casting out of demons. The demons know Who Jesus is, and one of them even announced that Jesus was the Messiah. It reminds me that one day everyone will confess His Lordship.

For I am God, and there is no other. 23  By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ Isaiah 45:22-23 (ESV)

Jesus rebuked the spirits and wouldn’t let them give testimony. As His fame spread, people got nervous and we see the beginnings of plots to silence and kill Him. His healing and demon casting ministry was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy:

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4 (ESV)

He people saw but they either didn’t believe or didn’t want to upset the apple cart of their lives. Yet Jesus continued to heal and offer forgiveness. What a loving Savior!

As Jesus’ ministry grows, He begins to travel more, and one of the places He stopped to rest was Samaria. Remember that the Samaritans were a hated people, with enmity going back hundreds of years. We heard about the Samaritans in Week 38.

…the Samaritans who claimed to worship the same God as the Jews. The Samaritans were a mixed race who had been born after the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom. They were part Jewish, but …

So they feared the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away. 2 Kings 17:33 (ESV)
Jesus would have been considered ceremonially unclean after He took the water of a Samaritan. She was all alone at the well, probably because she was ostracized for her lifestyle. Jesus didn’t condemn her: He came to her in love. He allowed her to see the error of her ways and offered her a new life and a new lifestyle through Him. She responded to His gentle and loving manner by saying, “Can this be the Christ?” Notice that Jesus called her to repentance, and that’s what she did. She told others as well, and that brought even more fame to Jesus.

We see many healings, and the one commonality is the faith that the person needed to exhibit. Jesus wasn’t doing magic tricks. He wasn’t trying to get more converts and more money by doing spectacular healings. He was offering a life and lifestyle change to the people He encountered, and many of them took Him up on His offer.

It’s human nature to be upset when things change. We see it today in churches when we hear “we’ve ALWAYS done it this way”, and we saw it in John’s Gospel when Jesus completely upset the spiritual leaders by healing on the Sabbath. They were so concerned about laws for “working” on the Sabbath that they missed the appearance of the Lord of the Sabbath! When He healed the paralytic, the priests called Him blasphemous because He also offered salvation.

The Pharisees were judgmental when Jesus’ disciples ate the field gleanings because they were “working” on the Sabbath. Jesus reminded them that even David’s men ate bread from the temple but wasn’t rebuked by God for his deeds. He pointed out the flaw in the priests’ logic: they profaned the law that they were trying to enforce each week because their positions required them to work on the Sabbath. He was trying to show that following the rules didn’t make a difference if the person wasn’t following with his whole heart.

Meanwhile, the people were both fearful and amazed. They took the time to glorify God. It wasn’t all good, though. Because Jesus’ fame was spreading so rapidly, He was having difficulty getting through the crowds and He could no longer enter towns for tWe see that some people believed, but some didn’t. the most surprising group to disbelieve?

And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:21 (ESV)

How could His family, having grown up with Him, not believe?   Think about it… would YOU have believed? We have the benefit of hindsight, but I’m not sure how most of us would have reacted in similar circumstances.

Tomorrow we’ll visit the Sermon on the Mount and listen to Jesus give definitive answers for some of life’s tough questions.

What have you learned from the readings this week? What parts were illuminated for you? I would love to hear what God has said to YOU! Feel free to send an email or leave a comment any time.

See you soon.

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